191031ind Cranston

In 1870, sea captain Beriah H. Gardiner built this home at 39 Pleasant St. in Wickford. By the 1920s, it had passed through a number of owners and occupants, most notably Nils Thor Granlund, a Broadway show producer who regularly visited his daughter June in the property.

This house was constructed for 68 year old retiring sea captain Beriah H. Gardiner, son of Beriah Gardiner of Main Street, in 1870 on a lot he purchased from the widow Abby Cotter who lived next door. Beriah moved in with his second wife Maria (his first wife Frances Heffernan having died in 1866) and his two adult daughters Harriet and Anna. He passed away in 1876 and left the house to Harriet. By 1880, the house had been expanded to include the small el to the south and the unmarried Harriet was sharing the house with her widowed sister Abby Carpenter and her family, along with their aunt Susan C. Heffernan. Things went along in this fashion until 1910 when Harriet sold the home to a neighbor Joseph G. Reynolds who then resold it to one of his relatives Marion T. Reynolds. Marion retained ownership of the house until 1921 when she sold it to Florence Avery, a bookkeeper formerly from Providence. Florence, a single woman, moved in with her sister Mabelle Granlund and Mabelle’s daughter June. Mabelle (Avery) had married Nils Thor Granlund a decade earlier and he had just divorced her at this time. Nils was a Broadway show producer, radio industry pioneer, and a publicist for Marcus Loew who had begun the Loews Theatres and was a founding partner in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Nils (who often called himself simply NTG) was a “mover and shaker” in the rapidly expanding entertainment industry and was credited with “discovering” entertainers like Georgie Jessell, Yvonne DeCarlo, Joanne Crawford, Fred Wynne and others.

Later, while living in Hollywood, he was credited as being the inventor of the “movie trailer”. He had divorced Mabelle in order to marry a showgirl. In spite of this, Nils, however, was still a regular visitor in Wickford in that timeframe as he continued to maintain a relationship with his daughter June. Florence and Mabelle lived here until 1934.

At that time Florence fell into financial difficulties and lost the house to creditors. It was owned for a short time by Charlton and Muriel Craig who sold it in 1941 to the Seavey Family. The Seaveys, who for many years ran a popular ice cream parlor and drugstore on Brown Street in the village, owned this home for 68 years, through two generations. Its present owners the Sammartinos, have restored and remodeled it to a fashion that would make even Nils Granlund pleased.

The author is the North Kingstown town historian. The views expressed here are his own.

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